Last Saturday, we promised to get you caught up on the NBA Playoffs from a market perspective the next time we were together. Let’s hit the hardwood.
In the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks have been a huge money maker all through the regular season and playoffs. They cashed at a 60% rate while earning the #1 seed in the Eastern brackets. Then, they covered 10 of their first 11 playoff games before losing a non-cover at Toronto this past Sunday in double overtime. (And, THAT was a cover in regulation!)
Game Five of the Eastern Finals goes Thursday night in Milwaukee (TNT, 7:30 p.m.). The Bucks went 2-0 straight up and ATS vs. Detroit on that floor in the first round, 2-1 straight up and ATS vs. Boston in the second round, and 2-0 straight up and ATS vs. Toronto.
Milwaukee has been dominant at home. Oddsmakers and sharps are already trying to figure out what prices should be at that site in the projected Finals meeting with the Golden State Warriors. Either the Bucks or Raptors will have home court advantage over the Warriors because of a superior regular-season record.
For their part, since we were last taking hoops, the Warriors reminded oddsmakers, bettors, and TV pundits that they didn’t need Kevin Durant to dominate. TNT’s Charles Barkley and others were pontificating gloom and doom for Golden State when Durant injured his calf.
The Warriors haven’t lost since! They dominated market expectations with point spread covers of 12 points in the series finale at Houston, 15 points in the Western Finals opener vs. Portland, and 13 points in their first road test against the Blazers.
Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and the rest of the Warriors reminded everyone that this was a championship team before Durant arrived, and may still be one if he leaves to play for the New York Knicks or Brooklyn Nets next season.
Golden State will have plenty of time to rest and prepare for the Finals that begin a week from today (May 30). There was talk late last week that a shorthanded version of the Warriors might be as low as -140 to win the championship round. But stellar play vs. Portland has lifted that expectation closer to -180. Milwaukee (or Toronto) still has time to change perceptions about upset potential.
VSiN will provide an in-depth preview for the championship round in this space next Thursday.
▪ With the traditional racing thrills of Memorial Day Weekend imminent, VSiN will present a special preview from a sports betting perspective authored by Wes Reynolds of “Point Spread Weekly” in our regular Saturday spot. We hope it adds to your enjoyment of Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix, Indy 500, and Coca Cola 600. Don’t start your engines until you see what Wes has to say!
▪ The NHL finals will begin Monday in Boston. The Eastern Conference champion Bruins have been dominant in recent action…sweeping Carolina in four straight games (winning scoreboard 17-5) after taking the last three games of the Columbus series (by a count of 11-4). Playoff hockey games are supposed to be close! Boston will be the series favorite, but anything can happen in the NHL.
This is a great time of year to be a sports bettor, even though we’re still several weeks away from the return of football.
▪ Speaking of the gridiron, CG Technology recently posted low-limit betting lines in Las Vegas for Weeks 1-16 of the coming NFL season (Week 17 was left out because some teams may be resting starters). The New Orleans Saints were underdogs in only two games…September 15 at the Los Angeles Rams (getting three points), and October 20 at Chicago (getting one point). A September 22 road game at Seattle opened at pick-em.
Barring major injuries, New Orleans will be market favorites in all six divisional games in the NFC South unless it needs to rest starters to prepare for the playoffs in the regular season finale at Carolina. At home, the Saints are currently -10.5 vs. Tampa Bay (Oct. 6), -7 vs. Atlanta (Nov. 10), and -9 vs. Carolina (Nov. 24). They’re laying -4 at Tampa Bay (Nov. 17) and -2.5 at Atlanta (Thanksgiving night).